Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a panel discussion, Society and World Politics, at the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students, Sochi, October 16, 2017

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 08:13

Dear friends,

I would like to begin by greeting all of you at the World Festival of Youth and Students. We appreciated the proposal to organise a discussion on Society and World Politics, since Russia has always been committed to an honest and frank dialogue on any international subject, even the most complicated and ambiguous ones. This frank and amicable dialogue is especially important for young people.

Your festival has convened thousands of young people from all over the world. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other better and to agree on maintaining contact in the interests of trust and mutual understanding among nations. It is also a good opportunity to make up for what “adult” politicians have failed to achieve.

I am convinced that this festival will become a real feast where you will make new friends. Of course, I also suggest that you use it to see the wonderful landmarks of Sochi, a city that has become established as an international sports, discussion, tourism, culture and education hub.

The global situation remains complicated and unpredictable. There are both old and frozen conflicts, as well as new security challenges, primarily the unprecedented rise in international terrorism, which threatens absolutely every country without exception.

We have not yet managed to unite for an effective fight against this common threat. We believe that the main reason for this is that some governments are pursuing their own geopolitical interests and trying to draw benefits from crises and conflicts to the detriment of collective efforts. We see a growing number of attempts to export one’s system of government and to force alien values and reforms on other nations regardless of these nations’ traditions and national identities. The use of military force without a UN Security Council mandate, unilateral sanctions and extraterritorial use of national legislation have seriously undermined the authority of international law. Some countries, which have reason to fear a repetition of the Yugoslav, Iraqi or Libyan scenarios in their territory, have been trying to increase their military might at any cost. This has resulted in a dangerous arms race and the risk of an uncontrollable proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We are deeply concerned about the continued loss of mutual trust, which will be very difficult to restore.

Regrettably, these negative trends have been further compounded by a US decision that amounts to withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme and by Washington’s military plans for settling the North Korean problem.

The growing number of problems is evidence of the failure of a unipolar world order. The world has seen that unilateral action cannot settle global problems. International relations are an extremely complicated mechanism, which cannot be controlled from any one centre.

The geopolitical landscape is changing rapidly. An increasing number of countries are calling for an international life based on truly democratic and fair principles. The new centres of economic power, which exist on all continents, are assuming responsibility for the stability in their regions. The rise of a polycentric architecture of global governance is not anyone’s whim but an objective reality, which reflects the cultural and civilisational diversity of the world and all nations’ desire to preserve their identity and freedom to choose a development path.

Meanwhile, a small group of Western countries are trying to hinder this objective process in order to preserve their domination. It is paradoxical that the countries that consider themselves to be the gold standard of democracy protest pluralism in world politics, which amounts to a betrayal of democratic values.

A case in point is the history of the United States. Attempts are being made to turn a nation whose founding fathers rejected imperialism and upheld the ideals of democracy, equality, justice and the primacy of law into a militarist state that is intolerant of dissent and is willing to violate international law.

International relations have reached a crossroads: either we plunge the world into chaos and instability, or we stop the confrontation spiral and agree to work together based on mutual respect and equal and indivisible security in the name of global well-being and prosperity.

Russia definitely stands for the second alternative, which is the only possible way to counter today’s many threats. Our policy in global affairs does not aim at damaging anyone. We will continue to consistently uphold the values of truth and justice, to respect the interests of other countries and to try to find mutually acceptable compromises. We will continue to advocate a peaceful, positive and future-oriented international agenda and to act as a guarantor of global stability. We will continue to develop equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with anyone who is ready for this, both at the bilateral level and at multilateral venues. Positive examples of this activity are provided by BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union, where decisions are based on balanced consensus with due regard for the interests of every member state.

We are pleased by the development of youth cooperation venues within the SCO and BRICS, which will ensure continuity in the long run. Despite the Russia-hating sentiments of some Western elites, we are open to honest interaction with the United States, the European Union and NATO, but only – I repeat – honest interaction based on the search for a balance of interests. This approach always brings good results.

By the way, the G20, a group that comprises Western countries, Russia and emerging economies, has great potential to promote the development of a polycentric world order.

We attach great importance to the strengthening of cooperation with civil society and Russian and foreign NGOs, including youth NGOs. We welcome the involvement of young interested people in dealing with the key topics on the international agenda. We view this as a major asset in promoting public diplomacy in order to maintain trust on the international stage. We are always ready to listen to your opinions and to support your initiatives.

Dear friends, the day will come soon when you will assume responsibility for the situation in your countries and in the world. President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke about this yesterday. It rests with you to make this planet a joyous, prosperous, stable and safe place for everyone.

I hope that your participation in this festival will serve you well on the professional and human planes, and that you will make new friends. I wish you success in your work and all the best.

To be continued...

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